Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
An American Masters Tribute Film
Cocktail Reception & Awards to Michael Kantor & Susan Lacy, with conversation hosted by Susan Margolin
Film: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, 114 min
Q/A with filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack
DIRECTORS: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack
PRODUCERS: Rita Coburn Whack, Bob Hercules, Jay Alex, Una Jackman
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Michael Kantor
EDITORS: David E. Simpson, Lillian E. Benson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Keith Walker
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a unique and distinctive way. Dr. Angelou had a prolific life as a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer and inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries.
This unprecedented film celebrates Angelou by weaving her words with rare and intimate archival photographs and videos, which paint hidden moments of her exuberant life during some of America’s most defining moments. From her upbringing in the Depression- era South to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, the film takes us on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon.
The film also features a remarkable series of interviews with friends and family, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, Secretary Hillary Clinton, John Singleton, and Dr. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.
Co-Director Bob Hercules’ s recent films include Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance and Bill T. Jones: A Good Man. Hercules’s acclaimed Forgiving Dr. Mengele won the Special Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival.
Rita Coburn Whack is an independent filmmaker with Emmy Award-winning documentaries for Curators of Culture, Remembering 47th Street and African Roots American Soil. She is also the author of the novel Meant to Be. Her company RCW Media Productions, Inc. produced Maya Angelou’s Black History Month Specials.
Tribute to American Masters
Profiling artists and visionaries for 30 years
The PBS biography series American Masters, that we have all come to know and love, was launched by Susan Lacy in 1986. Its award-winning programming celebrates our arts and culture, and this year, we celebrate its 30th anniversary. With more than 220 films to its credit, the series set the standard for documentary film profiles, exploring the lives and illuminating the creative journeys of America’s most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists, filmmakers, activists, scientists and those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape.
American Masters has received widespread critical acclaim: 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Nonfiction Series and five for Outstanding Nonfiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors.
Executive producer Michael Kantor took over for Lacy in 2014. That year, he founded American Masters Pictures, WNET’s theatrical imprint for documentaries co-produced by the series, which partners with filmmakers, distributors and sales agents on non-broadcast releases including film festivals, theatrical, online, DVD, VOD and OTT. Kantor also launched In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive, which features previously unreleased interviews with luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants via the American Masters Podcast and short-form videos. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. For videos, podcasts and more, visit www.pbs.org/americanmasters.
Kantor’s PBS series includes Broadway: The American Musical (hosted by Julie Andrews), Make ‘Em Laugh (hosted by Billy Crystal) and Superheroes (hosted by Liev Schreiber). He served as executive producer of Give Me the Banjo with Steve Martin, and distributes the American Film Theatre series including Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, starring Katharine Hepburn, and Chekhov’s Three Sisters with Laurence Olivier. Kantor has co-authored three books, served as a Tony nominator and taught producing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
In 2013, after nearly thirty years as Series Creator and Executive Producer of American Masters, Susan Lacy began a new chapter in her documentary filmmaking career — forming her own company, Pentimento Productions, and focusing solely on directing and producing. Her first films at Pentimento are already underway (documentary portraits of Steven Spielberg, Jane Fonda & Ralph Lauren) — all part of her company’s exclusive multi-picture deal with HBO.
Susan’s previous films were all part of the American Masters collection — she directed and produced Inventing David Geffen, Judy Garland: By Myself, Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note, Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval, and Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice. Additionally, she produced the Peabody award-winning films Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, LENNONYC, and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.
During her tenure, she created a singular library of American cultural history —producing for national broadcast over 215 documentary films about our country’s artistic and cultural giants. Under her watch, the series garnered an unprecedented number of awards — 71 Emmy nominations and 28 wins, including a remarkable 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series, in addition to 12 Peabodys, 3 Grammys, and an Oscar.